Illinois officials respond to Chauvin verdict: ‘Justice is being served in Minneapolis today’

Here’s a sampling of what politicians in Illinois had to say about former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd.

SHARE Illinois officials respond to Chauvin verdict: ‘Justice is being served in Minneapolis today’
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, in 2019; Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, in 2019.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, in 2019; Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, in 2019.

Amr Alfiky/AP file; Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Illinois’ politicians said justice was served Tuesday after a jury found the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd guilty on all counts, but they acknowledged they still have work to do to “make sure our policies in Illinois value Black lives.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement no courtroom can “ever replace a life, but it can and should deliver justice.

“Today, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial honored that truth,” the governor said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “Today marks a moment where future generations can look back and see that we as a nation came together and rightfully demanded justice and accountability.”

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said the verdict “suggests we may have some common sense of justice,” but he said “our work here continues, and we’re going to make sure our policies in Illinois value Black lives.”

Here’s a sampling of what other Illinois politicians had to say about Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd:

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin:

“The image of Derek Chauvin staring straight into the camera as George Floyd died under his knee haunts me to this day. The injustice of his killing is undeniable. And so is the fact that systemic racism continues to plague America. 

“The verdict of this jury gives me hope that we can strive for a system of justice in our nation that is applied equally to all.

“As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have the forum and the means to help move our nation nearer to that goal. To that end, the Committee will hold a hearing next month on police reform.

“I know today’s ruling provides only a small measure of comfort to the Floyd family. His loss will be forever felt. We will honor George Floyd’s memory by continuing the fight for racial justice.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth: “Last year, the world watched in horror as Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he cried “I can’t breathe” and called out for his mother while the life drained from his body. George Floyd was murdered at the hands of a police officer who betrayed his oath to protect and serve.

“While today’s ruling won’t bring George Floyd back, it brings his family — and the entire community — closer to some semblance of justice, sends a message that our nation cannot ignore police violence and reminds us all that accountability is still possible.

“Though today’s verdict is a just result, it is only a beginning. Our work is not complete. In order to make justice the norm rather than the exception and truly bring us closer to achieving equal protection under the law for everyone, Congress must pass the comprehensive George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and begin to rebuild trust between law enforcement and our communities.”

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton: “This verdict is our Selma moment. In Selma, men and women marched to demand that Black people be seen and treated with the same respect and dignity as others, that our humanity be recognized in this country. Now, in Minneapolis, a diverse jury of men and women with various lived experiences have handed down a guilty verdict that tells this nation, and the world, that the humanity of Black people matters. Finally, this is what accountability looks like. But make no mistake, George Floyd should be alive today and the system still needs to change.

“As many cheer this guilty verdict, this act of justice for George Floyd, let us not forget others for whom no justice or police accountability was found: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Tamir Rice, and so many others. We will still speak their names along with George Floyd as we work to bridge our differences, fix our problems and search for a more perfect union in this country.

“God bless the Floyd family, including his daughter, Gianna, who will grow up without her father. May we spend our days working to ensure that no other person or family will have to go through this again.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot: “In May of 2020, I saw the harrowing footage of George Floyd’s life being extinguished beneath Derek Chauvin’s knee, and I cried. I said then and I say now, being Black in America cannot be a death sentence.

“I join my fellow Chicagoans, Americans and human beings across the world as justice is being served in Minneapolis today. A jury of his peers listened to the evidence presented by both sides and came to the only reasonable verdict based on the overwhelming evidence presented by the Prosecution.

“I want to commend the jury, the prosecution and the people of Minnesota for their invaluable work to hold Mr. Chauvin accountable for his crimes. George Floyd’s death sparked a pivotal movement for Americans fighting to end systematic racism.

“Today marks a moment where future generations can look back and see that we as a nation came together and rightfully demanded justice and accountability. And justice was served. Let us pray that the Lord continues to watch over George Floyd’s family and loved ones. Pray for peace as we continue on our journey towards a more just and equitable world.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle: “I want to first extend my condolences to the family of George Floyd who have had to relive painful memories during the trial.

“While the guilty verdict does not bring George Floyd back, today reminds the Black and Brown people of America that sometimes, with monumental effort on behalf of the people, a verdict reflecting the true meaning of justice can be returned.

“The fact that for many, today’s guilty verdict was in question, tells us we still have a long way to go in bringing accountability to policing.

“Still, today’s verdict is a step in the necessary direction of reforming the systems that have entrenched racism into the police departments of this country: the codes of silence, the inadequate disciplinary systems, the bloated budgets and the fear mongering rhetoric whenever police departments come under scrutiny.

“I envision a society where policing has a place alongside a variety of other services in responding to urgent situations and hope that the bad acts of a few officers do not define the many other officers who protect and serve with honor.

“But, even in the best of situations, long-term improvements in public safety will not be brought about by police departments.

“To prevent crime, we must address the inequities in our society; we must continue to increase our investments in the communities most affected by both crime and policing; and we must repair the harm of decades of redlining, restrictive covenants, mass incarceration and disinvestment.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx: “Justice would be George Floyd being alive and present in the lives of those who loved him.

“Accountability is what was served to Derek Chauvin.

“As we waited with bated breath on behalf of a man who cried out that he couldn’t breathe, today is a small measure toward healing. His murder has forced us as a nation to reckon with its racist legacy, that permeates all institutions — particularly the criminal justice system.

“May this moment be the inflection point to demanding and delivering justice and accountability to all of our communities.

“May we actualize in truth and policy that Black Lives Matter.”

Attorney General Kwame Raoul: “Today justice was served, and I hope this verdict brings some measure of peace to the family and friends of George Floyd, and allows them to begin recovering not just from Floyd’s tragic death but also from the trauma of the trial. I am also hopeful that this verdict will begin the healing our country needs.

“I would like to congratulate my colleague, Keith Ellison, on a well-conducted prosecution. It should be noted that the successful prosecution was obtained with testimony of fellow officers within the Minneapolis Police Department who refused to sign off on an illegal and unconscionable use of force. Let that be a new standard.

“While George Floyd was not the first unarmed Black man to die at the hands of police, his death galvanized Americans in a historic way. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to remain at home with little else to distract from the horror of the video depicting George Floyd’s cries for his mother as he struggled to breathe. As a result, streets throughout the country filled with people demanding change to the status quo.

“Today’s verdict must not mark an end to a struggle toward eliminating the systemic problems that have tolerated police misconduct. It would be a mistake to take the ‘bad-apple’ approach to evaluating the impact of this case. I, for my part, am committed to utilizing the tools and resources of my office toward confronting the systemic problems that have tolerated unconstitutional policing in departments throughout the country. I will also continue to partner with community leaders, advocates and law enforcement agencies to enact policies that facilitate preventing future tragedies.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker: “No courtroom can ever replace a life, but it can and should deliver justice. Today, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial honored that truth.

“My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd, who deserve to have him alive today. I’m also thinking of all our Black communities and other communities of color who see their children or their parents or themselves in George Floyd, and Daunte Wright, and Adam Toledo, and Breonna Taylor, and Laquan McDonald.

“This verdict marks an important milestone on the journey to justice, but the fullest measure of progress is how we deliver accountability, safety and meaningful change.

“In Illinois, we are addressing law enforcement reform, criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, educational equity and health care.

“We can and must make progress every day until we have a state and a nation and a justice system that truly serve everyone. And as long as there’s more work to be done, that’s what we’ll do.”

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush: “Today’s verdict — guilty on all three counts — is an important first acknowledgment of illegal police conduct. It holds one unlawful policeman accountable for murder. However, police accountability is not synonymous with justice.

“We still have a long way to go to ensure that every American has a guaranteed right to equal justice under the law — if America is indeed a nation built on equal justice under the law.

“Bottom feeding to populate our police forces in this nation must come to a screeching halt. Our police forces must be highly professional, highly educated, highly trained, and highly paid personnel who adhere to the highest standards of public safety and public protection.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten: “For Americans who watched for the 9 minutes and 29 seconds as George Floyd was murdered, this trial wasn’t so much a question of guilt as it was a test of the American justice system. Today, our justice system prevailed, but in so many instances, it continues to fail Black and brown Americans.

“While I hope that today’s verdict paves the way for increased accountability for police brutality, it is also my hope that it doesn’t dissuade us from reckoning with the reality facing Black and Brown Americans or the long way we have left to go. Massive disparities in policing and incarceration, health care, housing, access to clean air and drinking water, and voting rights continue today and every day.

“In the wise words of John Lewis, ‘A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.’”

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García: “Derek Chauvin’s conviction is a small, needed measure of accountability, but there will never be justice for George Floyd. 

“George Floyd’s death was a watershed moment. Millions of protesters across the country and the world took to the streets. Together, we said his name and the names of countless others killed by racist, violent policing. 

“Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and end qualified immunity to increase police accountability. But in Black and Latino communities, we know the police play by a different set of rules. Change requires more than accountability — we must prioritize programs that invest in families and youth rather than violent policing. Our work is only just beginning.”

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon: “George Floyd’s murder reignited the fight for justice across this country in the never-ending hope that someday justice might be found.

“This verdict will not undo the tragedy and suffering.

“But it should serve as a historic marker in our ongoing work to build a just and equal society.”

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch: “Today, after 11 months, we have finally received a verdict that suggests we may have some common sense of justice. While it’s important to have faith in the future of our own humanity, it should not have taken George Floyd losing his life, Gianna Floyd losing her father, for our hearts and minds to change.

“Nonetheless, we are here, and Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder by a jury of his peers. There’s nothing to celebrate, though, as a system that allows this to happen still prevails. This year our legislature passed historic police reform, and we will continue to build on that. Simply put, our work here continues, and we’re going to make sure our policies in Illinois value Black lives.”

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie: “Nearly a year ago, the world watched in horror as George Floyd begged for air while being murdered by Derek Chauvin. Today, we watched a jury of Chauvin’s peers declare him guilty on all counts. Nothing will return George Floyd to his family, but today’s verdict is justice under our judicial system.

“George Floyd’s life and death will forever affect the trajectory of race discussions in the United States. His trial ignited strong emotions of pain and mistrust throughout the country. I pray that the public’s reaction here in Illinois is one that remembers George Floyd’s life and death by pursuing peaceful progress for all those who are hurting in America.”

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin: “While today’s verdict won’t bring back the life of George Floyd, it delivers a powerful statement that no one is above the law. Derek Chauvin is now a convicted murderer, and bad actors like him have no place in law enforcement.”

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th): “Today there was some semblance of justice for George Floyd’s family, but all of the killings in our Black and brown communities at the hands of police that have happened since George Floyd’s murder — including the killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo earlier this month — show that we have work to do until we know true justice.

“Community organizations and advocates have come together in support of a police accountability ordinance that has been languishing on Mayor Lightfoot’s desk. We desperately need community oversight and community-driven accountability for the police, not more over-policing of our communities with the pre-emptive deployment of the National Guard. We’ll never achieve justice so long as our communities are seen by elected officials and the institution of policing as a threat.”

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